Morning Run on the Western States Trail

While we are not crazy about Auburn there is no doubt that the Western States trail is a beautiful area. We enjoyed coffee followed by a lovely run out of the canyon.

Morning Run on the Western States Trail #3 Morning Run on the Western States Trail #2


The Best Part of Grass Valley

The Yuma river was definitely the best part of Grass Valley, CA. We really enjoyed hiking in and swimming along the river. It was particularly funny to watch everyone struggle to walk on the rocky beach.

Road Warrior eBay Setup

It doesn’t take much. A thermal printer, some padded flat rate envelopes, a tethered cellphone and a laptop and you to can sell on the go.

What's with Reno, NV's Yard Sale Signs?

Reno is the first city we have come across that has a art work all over their yard sale signs. We kept seeing poster after poster with imagery on it. Eventually we stopped to get a snap.


Plenty of Room in Reno

My awareness of Reno, NV has until now had to do with Burning Man. The years that I attended the desert experiment I flew to Reno or drove to Reno having flown to LAX or the San Fran airport. In Reno I hit Home Depot and Trader Joe's to stock up for the adventure ahead. I caught brief glimpses of the place, casinos and bits of run down city that had led me to think of Reno as gambling and drinking. A place of general debauchery. I considered it the Atlantic City of the west coast. Somehow the debauchery I was headed into at Burning Man was different than what happened in Reno. Admittedly I prefered The Playa's esthetic and crowd. I despise gambling.

Mikey and I spent the last couple of days with a friend who we knew in NYC and who had also spent time with us in Truth or Consequences. Jeremy relocated to Reno. When I first heard I wondered why. This week I saw a very different Reno than I was holding in my imagination. For one thing Reno is pretty. Yep, tree lined, hilly and a mix of burbs, farms, and urban landscape. Somehow these things fit together well. Perhaps it is because Reno is not overpopulated. Reno is spacious, there is room for everyone. I heard that during the 2008 crash Reno was hit pretty hard. Many people left leaving behind infrastructure like old tudor homes and mid century modern public buildings. Downtown Reno has no shortage of places for socializing including breweries, restaurants of all variety, an art spaces similar to the Bay Area's American Steel or Brooklyn's Third Ward. Reno reminded me of Austin and of Little Five Points, Atlanta, cities in which people live in houses and not sky rises.

After the 08' crash Reno stopped building until the homes that had been left empty were filled again. Older homes were renovated and updated. Recently building restarted. People are coming back. Elon Musk's automotive and battery mega corp Tesla is opening shop. Despite growth, Reno (like Durango) has lovely resources (water not being one of them) with few people vying for them. Lets not forget the natural resources like mountains, rivers, and lakes, and abundant skiing, fishing, and hiking. There is room in Reno and it feels good. If Reno marked off a green belt like Boulder and Portland the now moderate home prices would likely skyrocket locking as they would preserve what is currently a good quality of life.

From what I could tell Reno is a mix of Californians from the Bay Area and Burners (folks who came to Burning Man and decided to stay) who contribute to a growing art scene. In two days I saw three art cars roll down main thoroughfares. Several of the garage sales I went to had boxes of costumes for sale. Reno also has a local Nevadian who is closer to the land than the newer comers. Farming and ranching can be found in the city limits. While folks in Truckee made a point of saying, "I'm from California (not Nevada)." In Reno the bragging rights include lower taxes than Cali, and cheap petro fuel.

Hesitatingly we left Reno for Grass Valley, CA today but I plan to return Reno to have a closer look. #renoiscool


Truckee, Ca - Good Natured People In– Good Nature

We're heading out of Truckee, Ca today. We've been here for nearly a week. Everything you may have heard about Truckee is true. It is a beautiful place. A river runs through town carrying fresh mountain snow melt. Several lakes offer cold dips, beach, boating and pretty views. Despite a four year dry period - the river is low, skiing impaired, and rafting out of the question, residents and tourists alike find ways to enjoy nature's bounty. People are biking, hiking, and running everywhere.

This place has a tourist season that we missed by arriving early. I hear that during it's peak it can take 40 minutes to cross through the tiny town. Some local say that they hide out on weekends during season leaving restaurants and commercial row to the visitors.

What you may not know about Truckee is that there is a kombucha co-op, a hacker space starting up, several breweries, and a community of technical and creative people, many from the Bay area who are telecommuting. Never before have I seen so many vehicles modified to be lived in - short and long term - nor have I met so many people who are living in a vehicle. Their reasons are many - some go place to place seeking outdoor adventure in every season (freelancers with jobs) while some young folks are a step from homeless. Despite the town's awareness of this lifestyle, the police are gentle in their handling of vagabonds. In town public parks welcome all and for us have become a place to meet other vehicle dwellers. Just three miles from the center of downtown national forest campsites welcome overnighters at no fee. There's even a spot - loud and by a train but free - in the heart of downtown featuring signs that read "free parking 6pm to 10am."

There's money here. Most young people (in their 20s) drive newish high end vehicles meant for mixed terrain. Their toys are not cheap, roof racks house all variety of board and bike.

Truckee's best feature is the warmth and casual nature of the folks who live here. All admit that it is a transient place, people come for a while, even a few years, but not may stay for the duration. Most residents seem ready for conversation short or long, while standing in line or hanging out at a park. You won't find people rushing or honking on Truckees roads. The population of under 20k consider the region their extended home and they take advantage of Reno, and the many communities around Lake Tahoe. People on the CA side of the Cal/Nev border have made it a point of pride to live in Cali. Nearby on Lake Tahoe, Incline Village take a bad rap for being occupied by unwelcoming millionaires that don't share their town with anyone. When we drove through gates closed off every possible ancillary road, beaches were fenced and signs reminded all to keep moving.

Lastly, Truckee features a culture of dog lovers. Sesame made a dozen new, short term dog friends a day, has been welcome in many of the town's businesses, and is adored by the human population as well.

We loved Truckee. It's well worth a stop, even a extended stay.

River Yoga with Sesame

There is nothing like getting in some yoga after living in a vehicle for two weeks.


Amped Up on Fuses

Amped Up on Fuses by mikey and wendy
Amped Up on Fuses, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

I have been trouble shooting Hondo’s power system for the entire two weeks that we have been on the road. The problem has been that whenever I put more than a few amps through the cigarette lighter 12v system a fuse will blow. I’ve cobbled together a setup that prevents fuse blowing, but it also slows down charging. In the mean time we are carrying a bunch of extra fuses for the male cigarette light plug and the cars internal fuse box. There must be a short to ground or compromised cable somewhere inside the vehicle. This totally blows as I was hoping to heat water while driving for coffee, tea and oatmeal.

Tuff Beanz

Tuff Beanz by mikey and wendy
Tuff Beanz, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Kicking it with Wayne, Sesame, McFly and Wendy @ Tuff Beanz Coffee Shop in Truckee. Wayne is 2nd Honda Element that we have met on the road. He is into snowboarding and is in the process of scraping up the last traces of white stuff in the area. Tuff Beanz #2


New Cheap Clean Duds - Oh They're Great Too

Vagabonds don't have to look homeless. Today while comparing vehicles (all live ins) with two people that we met at a park by a river, I noticed that one guy stunk and his clothes were tattered, hat full of holes. Nice guy though, even employed. He has been living in his vehicle for almost a year. I wondered why he let himself look homeless when the wast stream is so massive. Doesn't he know that thrift is loaded with great stuff?

Later in the day we hit a couple of thrift shops in Truckee, Ca. Everything was half off. For fourty bucks I got a hat, dress, wool layering top, t-shirt, long sleeve cotton top and three items to sell on ebay including 2 100% cashmere sweaters, including a new with tags Hugo Boss - yes I'm Ebaying them from the road! A note: always get your size and resell items that you like in case you get stuck with them. Every item I bought was a good brand from Patagonia to Vera Wang and Ralph Lauren.
As I mentioned previously I only packed beat up clothes I was ready to toss. Today I tossed a dress and shirt that in just over two weeks I wore out and added multiple stains to. 
Pic: Notice the price tags, now take off 50%!!

Two Weeks In - A Change in Standard

We have been living in a vehicle for two weeks. The first few days were noticeably akward with no systems yet in place. At the end of a week I no longer constantly misplaced things. Durning week two, after needing to dodge a 1,000 mile wide snow and rain storm I felt a bit drained which I recovered from by moving around less. We spent two nights in the same city and plan to make that four - we're practically locals!
We have figured out how to cook/eat, sleep (find places to park overnight), work, and bathe. However, our standard around bathing and hygiene has changed. We care less about a shower or bath and find ourselves happy with sink wash ups at cafes, campgrounds, park bathrooms with running water, and other public rest rooms. Our ideal is a single room bathroom that's big, bright, and clean, multi stall bathrooms are limited and too exposing. It's amazing how pit, face, and crotch washing can extend the need for a shower by days. Our favorite by far is the rec center with pool, locker room, and hot showers. We choose these once a week and do some lap swimming. Along with this trend toward "ripeness" we have taken to changing our clothes about every 3 to 4 days. This seems as right as rain!
There u have it, we r on our way to becoming slightly stinky hippies, though really there must be a more modern term for it. I feel like a high tech vagabond. 


Sesame's Vacation

Let me begin with a mention that Sesame is a very sensitive dog. When we freed her from the no kill shelter that she was born in she was 4, and afraid of everything-paper, buzzy lights, shiny floors, water, paper... everything!
Five years later she is a very different and mostly a well adjusted dog but you can imagine the amount of stretching it takes to live in a vehicle. 

On day three and four I gave her a Valium to address her constant trembling.  It worked. Her panting calmed to a normal breath. Luckily it has eased her into her new lifestyle. It is not all bad for Sesame. She loves the daily hikes and runs, waking in nature (even if in a car), and many outdoor patios in which dogs socialize while their people drink beer and coffee. 

She does occasionally refuse to get in the car. I crouch down beside her, and whisper in her ear. I tell her why she must come along and how great she is being. She looks at me head low and reluctantly hops up the tailgate. A good girl no doubt.

Lake Tahoe Brewing Co.

Lake Tahoe Brewing Co. by mikey and wendy
Lake Tahoe Brewing Co., a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Next time you find yourself in Carson City, NV checkout the Lake Tahoe Brewing Company's latest brewery. It boasts some innovative beers. I loved their cucumber blonde, Irish stout, hefeweizen and abbey dubbel. Brian a X-Bend brewmaster hooked up with Elijay to create a impressive brewery. The bacon honey popcorn is not be overlooked either!


Organization = Low Stress

Mikey and I are more than a little prone to obsessive compulsive behavior. We're super neat and organized and we enjoy the activities that lead to being neat and organized. We're domestic. Living in a 35 square foot toaster offers new opportunities to fine tune our craft. The stakes are high when your living in a car where disorder leads to stress. To the degree that things always return to the same spot, they can be found. Imaging searching for your headlamp after sunset, toilet paper when you are in a rush, or water while parched in the dry desert.

The Honda Element has three hand holds and many hooks, some hidden in compartments. Mikey and I have each taken over one handhold. Mine (seen here) houses my water bottle during the night so its in reach, hair ties, a head lamp, a collapsible shopping bag, and a small tote containing the few bits of jewelry I am traveling with. Next to this hand hold a bungee crosses over a recessed window covered in mylar bubble. The bungees hold back a host of things including: window mylar not in use at the time, a laundry bag, and two folding camping stools. Above hangs shock chord with one roll of paper towel and one roll of TP. A bungee's hook holds Sesame's leash, and the loop of the shock chord holds a wash cloth, one of two, this one is for face and hands. The one below is for messier things. Finally next to this configuration is Sesame's no spill water bowl. Everything in its place.

Hwy 50, The Loneliest Road in NV - Hickinson's Summit

Highway 50 in NV boasts that it is the loneliest road in the state. I can see why. Trying to outrun a large weather system of snow and ice we drove the highway full length across the large state. There were few exits but several national forest service roads, our pick for crash pads in raw nature. Here's the spot we crashed at last night. If you look close you will see a bull leading his calf and cows up the slope. Once again our neighbors were none, cost zero and views plenty.

Day 11: Better Weather

As we get into the Sierra Nevada Mountains the weather is starting to look amazing! The sun is out, the rain has stopped and even the wind has mellowed out. This photo was taken along HWY 50 Nevada.

Table Up Front

Table Up Front by mikey and wendy
Table Up Front, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Thanks to a day of high winds and snow we figured out how to fit our tiny orange table into the drivers console. This metal table has been awesome for cooking on the tailgate, front console and it's overall slim profile folding ability. We paid a dollar for it back in New Mexico - garage sale of course.


Snowing in Nevada

Snowing in Nevada by mikey and wendy
Snowing in Nevada, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

Here is the summary of my summer vacation so far. SNOW!

Pot In Pot - AC/Heat

In my book I wrote about a couple that I called no impact couple. A film was made about this married couple and child who tried to live without an impact in NYC. They turned off the refrigerator because the power it consumed had an impact. They employed a technique that they learned about from third world cultures for cooling down food composed of clay pots, one in side the other.  Water was placed inside the smallest pot so that it would evaporate and wick, thus cooling the pot and turning it into a kind of refrigerator.

While in Taos a woman that Mikey and I met who also lives in a Honda Element, recommended a different pot in pot contraption. Her pots produce heat. The contraption she showed me (pictured here) was purchased form a garden center. It is meant to heat plants on cold nights or when a late frost puts delicate, early blooming plants at risk. The pots are turned upside-down and placed upon bricks that keep them above the ground. Space for a candle is left between the bricks. Its flame heats the pots. According to the woman who told me about it, the heat produced was too much for the small space inside the Honda (35 sq ft). I’m excited to try this simple and crude heating system inside and out. 

Last Exit for 100 Miles

Look closely. See the dot in the middle of the landscape pic? That's Hondo!

Less than 20 miles short of this stunning spot - our home for a night - we explored a bustling highway exit, an odd scene in the middle of nowhere. Cars, RVs, trucks and all variety of vehicles had pulled off the highway at Green River, UT knowing that it was the last stop with amenities for 100 miles. The tiny, rickety town featured a strip of run down businesses and truck stops, many with boarded windows and busted out lights. The largest Pilot truck stop seemed to be full, hosting 50 giant trucks that cooled their engines under fluorescent light. The small exit was abundant, scrubby, crowded camp grounds that lured RV’ers and campers with hand written signs nailed to a stick of wood, “$20,” no details.These “rest” stops were contained in rusty fences and featured buildings suffering from peeled paint. 

In spite of the quickly setting west sun, we decided to stick to plan and driver farther on I70 hoping for an exit with a national forest road. We found one in less than 20 miles. At the brown sign (a staple feature of national forests) that marked the start of the forest and end of paved roads, two other live-in vehicles inhabitants read the details, “area contains inactive mines. these may be dangerous and radio active,” and “open access (that means welcome).”